Getting Ready for Post-Secondary

Post-Secondary Pathways

Pathways signpost (Apprenticeship, College, Community Living, University, Workplace Students, parents and teachers are life-long learners. The idea of planning a pathway toward an educational goal should be focused, yet flexible. Educational goals can change over time. The ultimate goal of a student is to find and enjoy meaningful work.

There are many ways to journey toward work or a career/vocation. The pathways planning journey involves the transition from grade-to-grade and to life after high school to one of the post-secondary destinations of: 

  • Apprenticeship
  • College
  • Community Living
  • University
  • Workplace

Researching Your Options

In order to become better informed about your post-secondary choices, it's never too early to start researching your options. Visit your Guidance Teacher, myBlueprint, or a Post-Secondary Fair for more details. 


 Apprenticeship a post-secondary pathway that combines on-the-job and in-class technical training with work experience that leads to certification in over 150 skilled trades. 
  • Employers provide about 80-90% of the apprenticeship training in the workplace.
  • All apprentices attend in-school sessions offered by approved training delivery agents (e.g. colleges, unions) for the remaining 10-20%, which involves classroom instruction on theory.
  • Once both school and on-the-job components have been satisfied, apprentices will receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship.
  • For trades with exams, apprentices must pass the exam before they can receive their Certificate of Qualification.



Colleges offer a variety of diploma, certificate and applied degree programs. Ontario's publicly-funded colleges offer more than 5,000 program choices in 200+ areas of study. Programs are career-oriented and geared toward marketable skills.

Ontario Colleges Map


Community Living

Transition planning is about looking ahead to the future and preparing for adulthood. It is a partnership involving student, parent/guardian, St. Mary and DCDSB staff (e.g., Program Support, Guidance, Administration, Student Services), and community support agencies. Students on this post-secondary pathway may be working towards a Certificate of Accomplishment or a Ontario Secondary School Certificate.

As part of a student's Individual Educational Plan (IEP), a post-secondary transition is developed. Options include, but are not limited to volunteer work, paid employment and participation in recreational programs. 


  • St. Mary: Pathways to the Future... Looking Beyond Secondary School & Community Living
  • DCDSB Community Resources: Health Care and Recreation, Social Programs and Community Agencies to help families following graduation from secondary school.
  • DCDSB Project Search: Project SEARCH is an internationally successful 10-month transition-to-work program for young adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The primary objective is to secure competitive and meaningful employment for persons with disabilities after high school. During their final year of high school, students will be fully immersed with a host business site, gaining employment skills through a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on career training. 


To apply to university programs, students must earn their Ontario Secondary School Diploma and 6 of their Grade 12 courses must be at the University (U) or University/College (M) Level. There are 21 universities in Ontario, offering professional programs in a variety of fields. 

Ontario Universities Map


Ontario Universities' Info (OUInfo) is a guide to Ontario universities for Ontario high school students and their parents/guardians. It provides information about university programs, admission requirements and more. OUInfo should be used as a starting point for researching university options.

To apply to Ontario Universities, students do so online through Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC). 

  • College or University? Both? There are many decisions to make as you begin your postsecondary studies. Use ONTransfer resources to explore how you can combine both college and university studies and tailor your education to your unique goals and interests. For high school students and graduates, the site can help plan a postsecondary route that starts in a college diploma program and ends with a degree, and provide information on college-university collaborative programs.


The goal of all students is to find employment that is fulfilling and of service to society. There are many ways to get to the world of work and one of the ways is through an entry-level job. You may choose to seek the advice of an Employment Counsellor or attend a workshop at one of our Community Agencies. 


Post-Secondary Applications - Key Dates (2023 - 2024)

Action Dates
St. Mary Grade 12 Post-Secondary Information Assembly - Powerpoint slides
September 18, 2023
St. Mary Grade 12 Post-Secondary Workshops: University Applications  November 6, 2023
St. Mary Grade 12 Post-Secondary Workshops: College Applications  November 9, 2023
St. Mary Grade 12 Post-Secondary Workshops: Apprenticeship November 9, 2023
Deadline to submit university applications for equal consideration to all programs. January 15, 2024
Deadline to submit college applications for equal consideration. Applications will be accepted after this date with the exception of many highly competitive programs. February 1, 2024
College Decisions - Offers of acceptance dates vary among colleges.   Offers begin February 1, 2024
University Decisions - There will be a limited number of acceptances sent to students before mid-April.  Most will be received after April midterm grades have been reviewed. March to May 29, 2024
Deadline for responding to an offer from a college. May 1, 2024
Deadline for responding to an offer from a university June 1, 2024
(University) Admission Information Service - if students have not received an offer of admission by May 29, they can determine which universities may have places remaining in specific programs, and apply for September.  June - August 2024

Employment Ontario & Canada's Labour Market

Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development can help you get the education and training you need to build a rewarding career after high school. You can choose from university and college programs, apprenticeships and many other kinds of training and education. Through Employment Ontario, MAESD's employment and training network, we'll also help you build your career, and keep learning, throughout your working life. Employment Ontario connects people looking for work with employers looking for workers. It's your one-stop source of information about jobs, job search skills, training, education, and other services for employees and employers. 

When planning a career-life pathway, students should consider a variety of factors in a chosen career before beginning post-secondary education and/or training. Learn more about an occupation you are interested through Canada's Labour Market Information. Investigate wages, employability outlooks, education, and skills needed for a career. Informed education choices early in life can help young Canadians obtain the skills and experience necessary to find work quickly, avoid unnecessary debt and get a better start to their careers.

Financial Support, Scholarships, Awards and Grants

The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development provides a variety of student aid programs:

The Employment and Social Development Canada: Education Planning page is an excellent source of information. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada also provides a variety of resources for Students and their Parent/Guardians on how to pay for post-secondary education. 

A recent study showed that 85% of Canadian students will graduate from higher education with an average of $27,000 of debt. It doesn't have to be that way, though, because there are many sources of funding available for higher education - from birth, through to post-graduation - that can make access to post-secondary education possible and reduce potential debt. A Parent's Guide to Funding Higher Education describes sources of funds and resources for each stage. 

St. Mary students also have access to "The Scholarship Report" via their Edsby account in the Grade 12 Potential Graduates group. "The Scholarship Report" is a bi-monthly digital information resource for high school guidance counsellors, students and parents. It features current national and provincial scholarship listings as well as helpful tips in the search for all forms of post-secondary funding. Information on University/College Open Houses, application deadlines and fees, the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and other material pertinent to the graduating high school student is also provided. "The Scholarship Report" also includes listings of other types of awards as well as programs and activities that will enhance students' skills as well as their scholarship applications! Also available at Seeking Scholarships, coaching parents / students on their quest for scholarships, bursaries, and other forms of financial aid for postsecondary education. Please visit Seeking Scholarships - Services for more information.

A scholarship is an award based on a prescribed set of criteria. Scholarships are available from post-secondary institutions, companies or organizations. Speak to a Guidance Counsellor for more information. You may want to begin your research from the following websites:

Visit the Financial Supports and Scholarships webpage for information on financial supports including scholarships, bursaries and awards.

Gap Year

gap year is a break after secondary school, before making a commitment to an apprenticeship, college, university or the workplace. It can be any length of time, before and during studies, time off from work or other career pursuits and include any number of activities. You can figure out who you are, what your opportunities are, who you want to become and what you need to get there. Students may opt to volunteer, work, travel or explore. See Ontario Ministry of Education gap year fact sheet for more information.


Students may also consider a career in the Military. The Canadian Forces are made up of three armed services - the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. One of the key benefits of joining the Forces is paid education. When you enroll through the paid university or college programs, the Forces will pay for your university or college tuition, books and academic equipment in addition to providing a salary and benefits while you attend school. In return for paying for your education, the Forces requires you to serve in the forces for a period of time following graduation. Time served is calculated on the basis of two months service for each month of paid education. Military Education is provided through a wide variety of Colleges, Schools and Training Centres distributed across the country. See the St. Mary Education and Career-Life Pathway Planning: Career Exploration - Military fact sheet for more information.

  • DCDSB Continuing Education: Basic Military Training Program
    The Basic Military Training Program allows students the opportunity to earn secondary school credits while training with the Canadian Armed Forces.  Students will participate in military training and experience military life toward their Basic Military Qualifications.

Post-Secondary Education in the United States (e.g. SAT/ACT, NCAA)

Considering attending post-secondary in the United States? See a Guidance Counsellor for more information, and advice on how to select OSSD courses to plan for this pathway. Start your research with these resources:

Students with IEPs and/or Disabilities

If you have an IEP, you are supported by Program Support at St. Mary. Once you transition to Post-Secondary, your support is through Office of Students with Disabilities or Accessibility Centre at the College/University. Incoming students will not automatically receive the same accommodations at college or university that they received at high school. To discuss available accommodations, students should contact the OSD at the post-secondary school directly. Your Guidance Counsellor and Program Support Teacher are also available to assist you. 


Post-Secondary Resources for Minority Groups

Black Foundation of Community Networks (BFCN) Scholarship Program. BFCN Scholarship Program is designed to address a few of the gaps and barriers in order to increase access to post-secondary education and support Black students and their families. Includes the BCFN Scholarship Directory and Scholarship Workshop.

Aboriginal Post-Secondary Information Program (APSIP). APSIP is a collective of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) representatives from Colleges, Universities, and Indigenous learning institutes in Ontario and Quebec. The collective allows member institutions to engage more Indigenous students and their communities in a cost effective and collaborative manner.

Future Further - Ontario Universities’ Indigenous Student Resource Portal. Future Further is a dedicated resource that provides information about supports and services for Indigenous students interested in, or already attending, an Ontario university.

Indigenous Services Canada: Post-Secondary Education Student Support Program

  • Post-Secondary Student Support Program: ISC provides financial assistance to First Nations students who are enrolled in eligible post-secondary programs.
  • University and College Entrance Preparation Program (UCEPP) aims to enable First Nations students to attain the academic level required for entrance into degree and diploma credit programs, as prioritized and directed by First Nations.
  • Use the Indigenous Bursaries Search Tool to search 688 bursaries, scholarships and incentives across Canada, offered by governments, universities and colleges, private and public companies, individual Canadians, organizations and others aimed at Indigenous students.